ACCM 2015: Christmas Shopping

Today is the eighth day of Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories 2015!

The featured topic is – Christmas Shopping – and the focus is on . . .
For many of us, the focus of the Christmas season isn’t on “things” but on family and friends. Still, we like to give presents – large and small – to those we love. Do you shop during Christmastime or do you shop much earlier in the year to get it out of the way? Have you seen a change in your shopping habits as you’ve gotten older? Do you shop online? Do you participate in Black Friday or Cyber Monday activities? What was Christmas shopping like for your family and ancestors? Tell us about how you do Christmas shopping and your memories of Christmases past.

I recently asked my older brothers what was Christmas shopping like for them growing up, and both said their trips to the downtown Foley’s Department Store was more like Christmas “window” shopping than buying gifts. There wasn’t a lot of money to spend on gifts back then. So right after their visit with Santa, they would spend hours with my mom browsing and enjoying all the elaborate holiday displays throughout the store. My brother Jon said it was the 100 ft wide window display at the store’s Main Street entrance that captured his attention and imagination the most!

Foley’s Department Store Christmas Displays during the 1950’s

According to Houston Lost and Unbuilt by Steven R. Strom, the elaborate Christmas displays my brothers enjoyed so much above “. . . made downtown Foley’s Department Store a tourist attraction in its own right each holiday season for many years after the store opened in 1947.” [1]

As I think about this feature topic, I don’t remember Christmas shopping trips with my mom. Sure I visited Santa at the downtown Foley’s Department Store just like my brothers. The store was always beautifully decorated, but nothing really stands out in my mind about those shopping trips. Basically, once I told Santa what I wanted for Christmas, some of those items would magically appear under the tree Christmas Day. Once I learned there was no Santa, all shopping for me was done by my parents and older brothers while I was away from home at school or church. The excitement at this point was seeing the beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree for me grow each day until I could unwrap them on Christmas Day.

I am not a shopper. I didn’t really get into the groove of Christmas shopping until I had my son, Marcus. When he believed in Santa, I spent a lot of time standing in lines purchasing those beloved Tonka trucks, Legos, and Voltrons in Toys R Us and Kay-Bee Toys. But when he no longer believed in Santa a lot of my Christmas shopping for him and others on my gift list were by catalog. Remember those JCPenney, Montgomery Ward, and Sears thick Christmas Catalogs below that came in the mail?

My favorite Christmas Catalogs from the 1980s

Because I’m not a shopper and hate long check-out lines of any kind (which is why I have not shopped in a local Wal-Mart store in 5 years), getting those thick store catalogs in the mail quickly became my preferred way of shopping for the holidays from 1980s through the early 2000s. Thankfully, the Internet has replaced those thick catalogs and 95% of all my Christmas shopping today (or shopping in general) is online. Shopping online has made it possible for me to tap into those great Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales early, as well as, make shopping anytime of the year stress free!

Source Citation –

1. Strom, S. (2010). Foley’s Department Store. In Houston Lost and Unbuilt(pp. 120-122). Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.

The Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories (ACCM) allows you to share your family’s holiday history twenty-four different ways during December! Learn more at”


1 thought on “ACCM 2015: Christmas Shopping

  1. Hudson’s department store in Detroit had a lot of fancy displays too. going shopping with my mother doesn’t stand out. I don’t think we went shopping with her for gifts and our own shopping was usually done at Kresge or Woolworth.


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